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Thursday, 29 January 2009

Backed up against the borders: Miserable, but alive

It all seems so damned unnecessary. If Israel won't open its borders to let aid in, then Egypt, do. Of course Egypt can do this, but also has close ties and treaties with Israel, (and by association, the U.S.) and according to this article:

[it] maintains only the Rafah Crossing, which is primarily a pedestrian terminal and not equipped to handle heavy commercial traffic. Egyptian officials have temporarily loosened the tight restrictions on who and what they allow to pass through Rafah, but they remain either unwilling or unable to provide for the needs of Gazans, in part because Egypt does not want to assume responsibility for the territory (Crux of Gaza cease-fire: border crossings, Christian Science Monitor, 28 January, 2009).

Robert Fisk is not so charitable, and Egypt has previously said it will not open its borders while Hamas is in power.

As for the other crossings: There are five crossings into Gaza - four from Israel and one from Egypt. However, none are open in a regular or consistent way (Gaza aid stuck at sealed crossings , The Palestinian Chronicle, 28 January, 2009).

Aid is being distributed to 900,000 people , but at the same time John Ging, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, has said:

"The main problem remains the access to Gaza... There are thousands of tonnes of assistance generously donated sitting Egypt, Jordan and also in the ports of Israel.

"That aid should be right here, right now, helping the people who need it."

From the Christian Science Monitor:

"Unless the crossing points open, what we have are basics that are only keeping people alive. Miserable, but alive."

"There's a lot of money out there, available to be used for help, but what needs to happen is to get the crossings open," says Mr. Ging. "There are thousands of tons of aid waiting to get in, boxes and boxes of it. They're in Egypt, they're in Jordan, and they're also in Israel. We have been sitting on $97 million budgeted to us for the past year-and-a-half, but we can't get the supplies in so we don't spend it."

From earlier in this article:

He renewed US, UN and Palestinian calls for Israel to open the crossing points into Gaza to more international aid and to building materials to kickstart reconstruction.

The same information is being relayed in many news bulletins.

The following has been cited as reason for closing the borders again (28 January, 2009):

Unilateral cease-fires were holding by a thread after one Israeli soldier was killed and three wounded in a roadside bomb Tuesday; a Palestinian was also killed and one Gaza militant wounded following the bombing

However the fact that the Palestinian killed was a farmer, and a civilian, and that children being injured by Israeli shrapnel was already occurring well into the early days of this "ceasefire" is not mentioned. Anyway, that kind of thing is not new, as detailed by a similar "incident" in this 2006 Human Rights Watch Report. In addition, the strip was already living hand to mouth, and now its production capabilities have been destroyed, the factories and shops that were not already made redundant due to the ongoing siege, that is. 35,000 chickens were killed in the onslaught . How much further can Israel decimate the people of Gaza?

This has also recently been reported:

French diplomats were blocked for hours on the Jewish state's border with the Gaza Strip and Israeli soldiers fired warning shots at their convoy.

The diplomats were there to assess the reopening of border crossings and to inspect projects funded by France. (France summons Israeli envoy over Gaza border scare, Reuters, UK, 28 January, 2009).

There seems to be no limit. Does anyone remember this story of identity theft from New Zealand in 2004?

Back to the borders, or backed up against them, I guess Livni still thinks there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, there never was, and there never will be.

Those in power in Israel. I don't think there are the words to describe them.
And the latest in the tit for tat, or as medialens termed it, an eye of an eyelash cycle:

Olmert, noting that he had termed the cease-fire "fragile," also said: "We don't even call it a cease-fire but a holding of fire in the face of Hamas infractions, so that we can retain the IDF's freedom of action."

There's not much hope, is there?

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr